On July 30, the Senate to passed a stopgap measure that would keep federal funds flowing to transportation projects throughout the United States for three months.
“I reluctantly voted for a three-month extension to avoid a shutdown of federal highway and transportation projects,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who serves on the Senate transportation committee and helped draft a comprehensive six-year plan. “I am extraordinarily frustrated that Congress failed to pass a long-term bill before the July 31 deadline. The Senate transportation committee unanimously passed the bulk of the bill last month. Meanwhile, the House has not done anything.”
The six-year, $278 billion transportation funding bill would have included more than $1.3 billion for Vermont to repair and improve its roads and bridges.
“It is no secret that our infrastructure is crumbling,” Sanders said. “One of every nine bridges in our country is structurally deficient and nearly a quarter are functionally obsolete. Almost one-third of our roads are in poor or mediocre condition.”
The six-year bill also includes several provisions authored by Sanders that would benefit Vermont, including: changes to make Vermont competitive for funding through a new program to support projects of regional or national significance; significant regulatory flexibility for rural roads; and lowering the cost of borrowing federal funds for rural projects. Another Sanders provision would start the process of creating a national network of recharging stations for electric vehicles.
The U.S. spends just 1.7 percent of its gross domestic product on infrastructure, less than at any point in the last two decades. Meanwhile, Europe spends close to twice our rate, and China spends close to four times our rate. “We must invest much more in infrastructure to keep America competitive in this global economy,” Sanders said.
“I call on Speaker Boehner to take up the six-year bill that the Senate has now passed as soon as the House reconvenes in September,” Sanders said.